The Yankees front office may be denying it, but there’s an arms race brewing in the Big Apple.
The Amazin’s owner, Steve Cohen, who purchased the team in 2020, has not been shy about throwing his cash around. With a net worth north of $14 billion, Cohen is the richest owner in the MLB.
Hal Steinbrenner, the owner of the Yankees, however, continues to deny the idea of a spending war in Gotham city, saying the team isn’t worried about the financial habits of their Queens neighbors.
“The fact is I can’t control what resources the other owners have and what they’re going to do with those resources,” Steinbrenner told ESPN. “I make the same commitment every year, my family does, which is to do everything we’re able to do to field a championship-caliber team and win a World Series. I will continue to try and accomplish that.”
The recent MLB lockout, which threatened the upcoming season before being resolved earlier this month, included an internal debate among the MLB owners, with a so-called “Steve-Cohen tax” that would penalize front offices who spent more than others with a new tier of taxed-dollars.
Baseball Prospectus projects the opening-day Mets total roster salaries at $66.6 million, which is second only to the Los Angeles Dodgers at $274.5 million, and just above the Bronx Bombers at $235.2 million.
Still, despite being one-upped by the Mets for the first time, Steinbrenner insists that he is not threatened by an emerging superpower in New York.
“It’s great for the fans of New York to have two competitive baseball teams,” Steinbrenner said. “We’re in different leagues, but to a certain extent, we’re rivals. I think it’s going to make the summer a lot of fun.”
The Mets, who traded for ace pitcher Chris Bassitt with the Oakland Athletics, and inked veteran reliever Adam Ottavino to a new contract, have made significant moves this offseason, while the Yankees have been uncharacteristically-financially prudent, including with their resigning of first baseman Athony Rizzo, rather than pursuing Freddie Freeman, who ultimately signed with the Atlanta Braves.
The Bronx Bombers’ owner reiterated that he was planning to be “financially responsible” due to his job as a partner in the Yankees front office, but committed to doing his best to bring a title back to the Bronx.
“[It’s] my job every year, to make sure that we’re financially responsible,” Steinbrenner said. “I’ve got a lot of partners and banks and bondholders and things like that that I answer to. But at the same time, it’s always the goal to win a championship.”